I popped in for a break from tagging things for a garage sale - what an interesting thread! I really think Bookworm hit the nail on the head when she said that while CM and Classical share methods/books/techniques the underlying philosophies are not at all the same. At least not from what I've read! Just glancing over CM's 20 principles (inside her books in the preface, also online at Ambleside here) there are some big differences. The first one "children are born persons" not blank slates or empty boxes with the potential to become a person - they already are one. I wonder if that came from her work with very young children including babies? And from #11 "But we believing that the normal child has powers of mind which fit him to deal with all knowledge proper to him, give him a full and generous curriculum; taking care only that all knowledge offered him is vital, that is facts are not presented without the informing ideas..." Memorizing is important and but with CM we're memorizing scripture verses and poetry, in other words and idea - not a list of just facts. I think we underestimate and short change a child by assuming they are incapable of reason, logic, or forming their own thoughts even when young.
I'm really not trying to knock Classical education at all, it ran neck in neck with CM while my husband and I considered which approach to take. I think it has some great things about it and produces some amazing results, but for our family we'd rather achive those results by educating using CM's ideas. The other thing that bothers me about Classical education is it seems it is can easily squash the love of learning, just as textbooks can. What are textbooks but a collection of facts anyway? A CM education, in my own opinion, is much much more likely to keep that spark, joy, and love of learning that ALL CHILDREN already have! I have never met a preschooler, kindergartener or even a first grader who wasn't curious and eager to learn. By second grade....well it's fading. And then it's gone. I want to keep my children's desire to learn intact so they leave home with ability to educate themselves.
Sometimes I wonder if Charlotte Mason is a current craze, it almost seems that homeschooling companies like to stick the CM label on things just because they "narrate" or do "nature" or "book of centuries". "It's CM friendly!" after all right? But it's really so much more than that. I also think the many CM blogs and websites are incredibly nice and helpful, but it's like looking at a landscape painting and not the landscape yourself in person. It is these dear people's sincere application of Charlotte Mason. Hence the famous word to end all words on anything Charlotte Mason - "gentle". And I have to agree with everyone who already said it's so much easier to understand Charlotte Mason when you read HER words yourself. I love SCM and all they do! I wouldn't trade my SCM books for anything, I might have missed out on CM entirely if I hadn't stumbled across an article by Sonya - she and the SCM team have truly blessed myself and my family. But reading CM in her own words, I've had many an "ah-ha!" moment! There really is no subsitute!